PHOENIX - The big cats living on the border of the Southwest United States and Mexico have no understanding of citizenship, illegal aliens or country borders, or Donald Trumps Border Wall, they only know that the lack of fencing on the Arizona border, makes it possible to come and go as needed.
Jaguars, which ranged through all of Southern California until 1860, was thought to have been extinct in the US by 1963. But in the last 20 years. occasional individuals have been seen in Southern New Mexico and Southern Arizona.
In recent years there has been the occasional sighting of a lone solitary male Jaguar crossing in from a breeding population in Northern Mexico. One such cat has gained some notoriety and even has his own Wikipedia page.
The Jaguar picked up the name "El Jefe" (the boss) by locals and was seen prowling Arizona's southern mountains from 2011 to 2015.
The jaguar's present range extends from Southwestern United States and Mexico across much of Central America and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. Apart from a known and possibly breeding population in Arizona (southeast of Tucson) and the Bootheel of New Mexico, the cat has largely been extirpated from the United States since the early 20th century
Jaguars should never be confused with Mountain lions or cougars, which are smaller and more closely related to housecoats. The jaguar is the third-largest feline after the tiger and the lion, to whom it is related. It is the largest big cat in the Americas.
Scientists at the Arizona Game and Fish Department completed an independent analysis of trail cam photos of a jaguar in the Huachuca Mountains and confirmed that the animal has not been seen previously in Arizona. AZGFD and the US. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received the photographs earlier this month.
"Five scientists from the department independently examined the photos from the new sighting with those from previous jaguars in Arizona to compare spot patterns and concluded that this animal has not been sighted in previously in the state," said Jim deVos, assistant director for Wildlife Management at AZGFD in a news release.
"While recognizing the importance of finding a new jaguar in Arizona, it is also important to point out that this animal, like all other jaguars observed in Arizona in at least 50 years, is a solitary male and that the closest breeding population of this species is about 130 miles south of the international border," added deVos.
The other most recent sighting of a jaguar in Arizona, stated the release, was in the Santa Rita Mountains in southern Arizona; however, that animal has not been documented in the state since September 2015. Prior to September 2015, this jaguar was photographed hundreds of times over a three-year period, said AZGFD.
"Jaguars are a unique component of this state's wildlife diversity and it is exciting to document a new visitor. However, in the absence of female jaguars and with the irregularity with which we document any jaguar presence in Arizona, this sighting in early December is important, but not an indicator of an establishing population in the state," said deVos.